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April marks Oral Cancer Awareness Month, a pivotal time dedicated by healthcare professionals to heighten public awareness about oral cancer, its early detection and prevention. This initiative is significantly backed by dental associations, including the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), emphasizing the crucial role of dental professionals in diagnosing and managing oral health conditions that could potentially escalate into oral cancer.

Where Does Oral Cancer Strike?

Oral cancer is a formidable disease that can affect any part of the oral cavity, including the lips, tongue, cheeks and the floor of the mouth. According to the American Cancer Society, tens of thousands of Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, with a significant percentage of cases proving fatal. However, the survival rates dramatically increase when the cancer is detected early, underscoring the message that early detection saves lives. This is the primary reason why dental associations across the globe, including the AAP, are urging patients to undergo regular oral cancer examinations.

Why Have Routine Oral Cancer Screenings?

Our dental professionals are on the frontline of detecting oral cancer in its nascent stages. During routine dental check-ups, we perform comprehensive oral examinations that include screening for oral cancer. These examinations are crucial for early detection. The AAP and other dental associations advocate for these screenings not just during Oral Cancer Awareness Month but as a part of regular oral health maintenance to identify precancerous conditions or early signs of cancer that you may not be aware of.

What Role Do Periodontists Play After Oral Cancer Diagnosis?

But what role does our periodontist play if you are diagnosed with oral cancer? Our skilled periodontists specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease and in the placement of dental implants. We are also experts in the treatment of oral inflammation. Given our specialized training in these areas, our periodontist can play a crucial role in the oral cancer care team, especially in managing the health of the soft and hard tissues in the mouth.

Our expertise is vital in:

  • Early Detection: As part of routine periodontal examinations, we can detect early signs of oral cancer or precancerous conditions in the mouth.
  • Treatment and Management: In cases where oral cancer affects the gums or the health of the underlying bone, our periodontist can provide specialized care. This includes surgical interventions to remove any affected tissues and rehabilitative treatments post-cancer therapy to restore oral functionality and aesthetics.
  • Post-Cancer Care: Following oral cancer treatment, our periodontal team can significantly contribute to your rehabilitation process. We can manage any resulting complications from the cancer treatment, such as dry mouth, difficulty in swallowing and challenges in speaking. We can also perform reconstructive surgeries and place dental implants to restore your smile’s oral functionality and appearance.

Preventative Periodontal Health Assessments

The American Academy of Periodontology stresses the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups, including periodontal health assessments, as part of an effective preventive strategy against oral cancer. By working closely with our periodontist, you not only ensure the health of your gums and teeth but also benefit from an additional layer of defense against oral cancer through early detection and management. Oral Cancer Awareness Month serves as a critical reminder of the significance of early detection in saving lives.

We Are Here To Help

The American Academy of Periodontology, along with other dental associations, continues to advocate for these essential practices, reinforcing the message that when it comes to oral cancer, prevention and early detection are key to improving outcomes and saving lives. As always, our dedicated periodontal team is here to help you with all of your periodontal needs!